9780812975505

The Wishing Year

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780812975505

  • ISBN10:

    0812975502

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-07-14
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
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Summary

One New Year's Day, Noelle Oxenhandler took stock of her life and found that she was alone after a long marriage, seemingly doomed to perpetual house rental and separated from the spiritual community that once had sustained her. With little left to lose, she launched a year's experiment in desire, forcing herself to take the plunge and try the path of Putting It Out There. It wasn't easy. A skeptic at heart, and a practicing Buddhist as well, Oxenhandler had grown up with a strong aversion to mixing spiritual and earthly matters. Still, she suspended her doubts and went for it all: a new love, a healed soul, and the 2RBD/1.5 BA of her dreams. Thus began her initiation into the art of wishing brazenly. In this charming, compelling, and ultimately joyful book, Oxenhandler records a journey that is at once comic and poignant, light and dark, earthy and spiritual. Along the way she wonders: Does wishing have power? Is there danger in wishing? Are some wishes more worthy than others? And what about the ancient link between suffering and desire? To answer her questions, she delves into the history of wishing, from the rain dance and deer song of primeval magic to modern beliefs about mind over matter, prosperity consciousness, and the law of attraction. As the months go by, Oxenhandler is humbled to discover the courage it takes to make a wish and thus open oneself to the unknown. She is surprised when her experiment expands to include other people and other places in ways she never imagined. But most of all, she is amazed to find that there is, indeed, both power and danger in the act of wishing. For soon her wishes begin to come truein ways that meet, subvert, and overflow her expectations. And what started as a year's dare turns into a way of life. A delightfully candid memoir, unfettered, poetic, and ripe with discovery, Oxenhandler's journey into the art and soul of wishing will inspire even the most skeptical reader to search the skies for the next shooting star. Praise for THE WISHING YEAR "This is a wonderful book, full of wisdom gleaned from a year of Noelle Oxenhandler's daring to embrace what she had previously denied herself--her own personal wishes. I highly recommendThe Wishing Yearfor anyone wanting to learn more about what life has to offer when we pay attention to our heart's desires." Sarah Susanka, author ofThe Not So Big Life "Do you want to know how wishes come true? Then readThe Wishing Year. It's a book that beautifully illuminates the art and mystery of wishing--and it does so in a way that is inspiring, funny, serious, honest, heartfelt, and irresistibly readable." Jack Kornfield, author ofAfter the Ecstasy, the Laundry "The Wishing Yearis an elegant exploration of the way thought shapes reality. Writing with great personal honesty and candor, Noelle Oxenhandler's exhilarating prose takes us deep into the pain and glory of being human." Mark Epstein, M.D., author ofOpen to Desire "Oxenhandler's new book makes it okay to be a smart, sophisticated grow-up who also believes in magic. She dives beneath the new age veneer and deconstructs how wishes really come true."Susan Piver, author ofHow Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

Noelle Oxenhandler is the author of two previous nonfiction books, A Grief Out of Season and The Eros of Parenthood. Her essays have appeared in many national and literary magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Vogue, Tricycle, Parabola, Utne Reader, and O: The Oprah Magazine. She has taught in the graduate writing program at Sarah Lawrence College and is a member of the creative writing faculty at Sonoma State University in California. A practicing Buddhist for more than thirty years, Oxenhandler is the mother of a grown daughter and lives in Northern California.


From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xv
Putting it Out There: In which I openly declare three desires-to heal my soul, buy a house, and find a man-and am initiated into the art of wishing
January, Shrines: Honoring Desirep. 3
February, Arrows: Aiming for Lovep. 26
March, Gold: Gathering Moneyp. 44
April, Shit: Facing the Darknessp. 64
May, Craft: Wishing Wellp. 80
Raking it in: In which, as I set out to explore the ancient history of wishing, my own wishes surprise me by beginning to come true
June, Magic: Tracing Primal Rootsp. 101
July, Grace: Seeking Divine Favorp. 119
August, Guides: Discovering Their Presencep. 139
Holding it Lightly: In which, as I move through a modern history of wishing, my journey expands in new directions
September, Thoughts: Tapping Their Powerp. 167
October, Body/Mind: Trusting Connectionp. 194
November, Abundance: Realizing the Dreamp. 221
December, After Wishing: In Praise of What's Herep. 251
Acknowledgmentsp. 281
A Reader's Guidep. 283
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

Chapter One


January

Shrines: Honoring Desire

It’s New Year’s Day: bright and cold, with wind moving through the tops of the eucalyptus trees and silver clouds gathering in the distance. Beside me on the table are the remains of last night’s rather quiet celebration: in a glass bowl, four walnut sailboats float on water, their mission accomplished. Bobbing in a small sea of varying good fortunes, each made its way to one particular rolled-up paper message, tied with a gold ribbon. Mine read: “This year you will make a remarkable voyage to a place you’ve never been.”

Hawaii?

Whenever I encounter the word voyage, the word Hawaii springs up like a flower. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my wish place, a place in whose actual existence I’ve never fully believed. I’ve looked through travel books, gazed at other people’s photographs, and tried to imagine myself actually there among its iridescent green valleys, its waterfalls and lava beds, its banks of plumeria, hibiscus, and bromeliad. Yet Hawaii has always seemed out of reach to me, a place for which I lacked some crucial piece of paper, a ticket or permit saying, “Let her pass.”

In any case, I already sense that the fortune I’ve drawn is about a different kind of voyage—not so much to a place as to a different state of mind.

Fortunes, oracles, signs, and omens: don’t they belong to the same family as the wish? They all spring from that great human need to gain some purchase on the future—if not actually to alter its course, then at least to see into its shape, discern its contours, its pattern of light and dark.

When I look up the word wish in the dictionary, here’s what I find: it comes from the Middle English wen, and is related to the Latin venus as well as venom (originally a kind of love potion) and to venereal (referring to love disease), along with venison (containing a link to hunting).

Already, in that one small word, so much is gathered: desire, danger, seeking. It seems in itself a kind of omen for the “remarkable voyage” I’m about to embark on. But let me begin by laying my cards on the table, alongside the glass bowl with its four walnut boats.

Like most people I know, I have a long list of wishes for the world around me. However, when it comes to things on the cosmic scale— things as immense and complex as ending war, hunger, poverty, disease, and the destruction of the natural environment—I don’t yet have much faith in the power of wishing. Perhaps such faith will emerge as I move forward, but for now I need to focus on a smaller scale. Using my own life as a petri dish, I’m going to start with the two wishes at the top of my personal list.

One is to be spiritually healed. The second is to buy a house.

Is it crazy, a kind of blasphemy even, to set these two cards alongside each other, as though they belong to the same deck?

Not long ago, while I was slumped on the sofa late at night, I happened to catch a popular TV evangelist who was dressed to the nines with big hair, major earrings, and bright makeup. “I’m expecting radical favor!” she beamed, raising her bejeweled hands toward God in His heaven. “I’m expecting favor, blessings, and the best cut of meat in the house!” Her audience beamed back from their stadium seats, as though God, at that very moment, was processing their order for prime rib.

Where does such chutzpah come from? I wondered. When I was young I was taught not to engage in petitionary prayer. Or rather, I was taught that it was all right to petition God for things of the spirit, but not for things of the world. Ask and ye shall receive, I was taught. But it was understood that what ye asked for was grace, peace, forgiveness—not jewels on your finger

Excerpted from The Wishing Year: A House, a Man, My Soul by Noelle Oxenhandler
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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